Bread, in one form or another, has been the staple of the human diet from the fall forward. The LORD told Adam that by the sweat of his face he would eat bread (Genesis 3:19).
From the earliest times, humanity has eaten bread.
The Aztecs had bread as did the Romans who seem to have perfected the art of making bread.
Almost every culture past and present has some type of bread, from the modern tortillas of Mexico to the roti of Pakistan. Everyone has bread.
This year has been a year of baking. One amateur baker, the inventor of Xbox Jonathan Blackley, has attempted this year to d what is called experimental archaeology by taking ancient yeast found in Egypt and looking at ancient texts tried to recreate the ancient bread of Egypt. He has been baking ancient bread.
Painted on the tombs of the Pharaohs are pictures of servants carrying bread. The dead were buried with loaves of bread because they thought that even in the realm of the dead surely they had to eat. The people who built the Egyptian pyramids were themselves built by bread... Workers were given a daily ration of about 10 loaves of bread... The Egyptians had 117 words for bread... But they didn’t write down a single recipe. So it takes effort and trial and error.
Bread means life.
When Jesus was asked by His disciples to teach them to pray, central to His teaching was this important word, bread. He taught his disciples to pray a specific prayer in Luke 11:3:
"Give us day by day our daily bread."
He then tells a story about a man who has a midnight visitor, but no bread to feed them, and asks what a father would do if His child asked for bread.
Baking ancient Egyptian bread may be a fun hobby, but understanding Jesus ancient recipe for the bread of life is a necessity.
While we are to mature in our Christian life, there are fundamental things that we must continue no matter how far we grow. Prayer is one of those things. In our text, the disciples have asked Jesus to teach them to pray.
"This petition is concerned with dependence upon God for the fundamentals of life..." (Luke NICNT Joel P. Green). The Bread.
Jesus's answer does not give a technology of prayer, a time table, etc. This is seen in the fact that there is continuity with the next section. Pray with persistence, but... Luke is looking to Whom we are praying in each of these. The common thread in these three illustrations is bread. This is because Luke is emphasizing a way of seeing the God, self, and the world rather than a method of prayer.
1. Realigning Our Relationships
The Lord’s Prayer begins with the words “Our Father.” It never uses the personal pronouns I, me, my, or mine.
The man in the story of the midnight guest is knocking on the door of a friend because he has guests. The friend has children sleeping in the home. The need of the would be host became the need of the entire village. Friend = all things common. Honor. Proverbs 3:27-28
In both stories, there are more individuals involved in the asking and receiving than one. There are more needs than the needs of the one.
Prayer is about realizing whose children we are. Praying in this way changes the way we treat others because we realize that our fellow Christians and our fellow human beings are also children of the one Father. Prayer is grounded in a relationship (Father = Lord of the household; friend = someone with whom you share a common life).
In the Greco-Roman world that would have first read Luke was a system called paterfamilias. In it, the father has absolute rule over the household. Every child that was born could be accepted or rejected. If a father did not want a child, the child could be rejected, aborted, exposed, sold into slavery. Fathers could choose their children’s spouses or whether they could marry, divorce, or remarry. They chose whether a child could have money. They had absolute power. Their motives might be wrong and their ways harsh.
God has all power in a greater sense than any of the Roman fathers ever could. He is the Almighty. The sun rises on His time. But God is not cruel or mean and His motives are not to harm or hurt. Earlier in Luke Jesus says:
In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.”
The revelation that Jesus gives of God in Luke is one who welcomes the lowly and the outcast as children, not as second-rate children, but as those who are welcome at his table. Those who are called and chosen to eat His Bread. Jesus ate with Jews, Gentiles, sinners, and saints. The kingdom is for everyone. This year will be characterized by those whose focus is on the kingdoms of this world to the point that we allow it to become so divisive that we will not so much as eat with someone with whom we disagree politically.
The Prodigal son is a revelation of the Father’s love. He wants everyone at the table, eating His Bread.
The centerpiece of the three small teachings on prayer is bread.
Bread in the ANE world as it has been for the greater part of human history is the center of the meal, and the meal is the center of life. The "staff of life." Joseph became the savior of the world because he was able to provide bread (the main ingredient) to everyone.
The man knocks incessantly on his neighbor’s door because he needs bread and Jesus says that even his evil disciples would give bread to a hungry child.
"After the Korean War ended, South Korea was left with a large number of children who had been orphaned by the war. We’ve seen the same thing in the Vietnam conflict, in Bosnia, and in other places. In the case of Korea, relief agencies came in to deal with all the problems that arose in connection with having so many orphan children. One of the people involved in this relief effort told me about a problem they encountered with the children who were in the orphanages. Even though the children had three meals a day provided for them, they were restless and anxious at night and had difficulty sleeping. As they talked to the children, they soon discovered that the children had great anxiety about whether they would have food the next day. To help resolve this problem, the relief workers in one particular orphanage decided that each night when the children were put to bed, the nurses there would place a single piece of bread in each child’s hand. The bread wasn’t intended to be eaten; it was simply intended to be held by the children as they went to sleep. It was a “security blanket” for them, reminding them that there would be provision for their daily needs. Sure enough, the bread calmed the children’s anxieties and helped them sleep" (https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-give-us-day-our-daily-bread-mean/).
When we are in a relationship with Him, we realize that there is enough for today, tomorrow, and forever. He places The Bread in our hands!
The Pharisees used mealtimes as times to convict, but Jesus used them as times to teach.
2. Reordering Our Priorities
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Prayer is about reordering our priorities. Notice again where prayer begins. It is with “Our Father.” Our priorities are based on our focus.
When Satan begins his temptation of Jesus, he begins at the core of human existence, hunger. Hunger can drive a person to do things that they would not usually do.
At the base of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs are those biological and physiological needs without which none of our other needs can be enjoyed or realized: food, water, sleep, warmth, shelter.
"People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving" (Proverbs 6:30).
Park Yeon-mi is a human rights activist who escaped from North Korea as a thirteen-year-old. When asked what drove her to make the dangerous flight from North Korea she replied, "It was hunger." She said all they had were frozen rotten potatoes. She said she thought it would be the last thing she did even if she died. When you are hungry all you want to do is eat. If someone dies while they are eating, they were okay.
The prayer does not begin with a focus on daily bread but on the Giver of the bread. The prayer does not begin on our human sinfulness but on the Forgiver of sins. The prayer does not begin with prayers for protection from the satan, but on the Protector and Sovereign.
Answers to prayer have to do with the fact that God is going to vindicate his Name in the eschaton.
3. Recognizing Our Privileges
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”
In these prayers, there are specific requests made. Someone has said that God answers specific prayers.
Paul calls this praying with understanding (1 Cor). In the Lord's Prayer there are pinpointed things we are taught to ask for. The man who had a midnight visitor asked for three loaves of bread. The child asks for bread, a fish, and an egg.
God answers specific prayer. Give us this day our daily bread. God is not a divine vending machine, He is a Father who loves us and all we have to do is ask. When we sit at his feet and learn of Him, we can ask what we will and He hears us. If we ask anything according to His will...
While human fathers give good gifts, God gives the Best Gift, His Spirit!
The third Gospel will close before Luke reveals the way in which the Holy Spirit will be given. He saves this for his second volume. It is in Acts 1:8 and 2:1-4 that the Holy Spirit is given to those who have walked with Jesus and the promise is left to all those that are afar off even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
We have eschatological concerns. We are like the disciples in Acts 1:6, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"
I think Jesus would respond in kind to those who are asking the same question today: "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me..." (Acts 1:7).
God wants to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. (Luke 13:29) All nations will recline at the table of the kingdom. All nations will receive the Spirit. Peter went into the house of Cornelius. God filled Cornelius and his household with the Holy Spirit, just like He had the Jewish believers on the day of Pentecost.
On the night Jesus was betrayed unto death, he took bread and broke it and gave it to those he loved. Holding onto him, like children with bread, we are given peace in uncertainty, mercy in brokenness, something solid when all is lost. In his unsparing hospitality, we are all invited to the table: Come, take and eat. (https://www.rzim.org/read/a-slice-of-infinity/you-shall-eat)
Romans 8 speaks of both our weaknesses and God's solution.
There are times when we pray with the understanding, there are times when we pray with the Spirit in unknown tongues, and then there are times when we do not know what to pray for. We do not know what more to do than just to sigh, or to groan. When we are in this place, Paul tells us that the Spirit prays for us. God knowing our needs comes alongside us and there is an intercession that goes beyond what we can imagine.
Conclusion and exhortation:
Over the next 21 days, we will be praying together.
We will pray over specific needs. They will be posted around the building tonight.
We will pray in the Holy Spirit.
We will pray with groanings and inaudible cries.
God is going to provide every day the bread we need!